Solar power is part of a green energy 'bull market' in South Carolina

Solar energy is at the center of a "bull market" in South Carolina, with demand in all sectors, according a business alliance committed to encouraging its development.

Dominion Energy will unveil the state's largest solar project next month.   File photo

Solar energy is at the center of a "bull market" in South Carolina, with  demand in all sectors, according a business alliance committed to encouraging its development.

The South Carolina Clean Energy Business Alliance points to the pending construction of the largest solar project in the state as another sign of the industry's health.

"Solar in South Carolina is in true 'bull market' territory,"  Bonnie Loomis, the alliance's executive director, told the Palmetto Business Daily. "Market demand is growing in all sectors: utility scale, industrial and residential."

In its most recent census, published last year, the alliance reported  there are 350 clean energy firms in the state, providing 18,000 full-time jobs. These companies generate more than $3.8 billion in annual gross revenues, up more than $1 billion year on year between 2015 and 2016.

"Early next month, Dominion Energy will unveil the largest solar project in the state," Loomis said. " With two locations spread over 1,000 acres in Jasper County, the panels will provide over 80 megawatts of energy, enough to power 15,000 homes."  

The two projects are a 71.4-megawatt facility, South Carolina's largest, and one producing 10 megawatts of power.

"Solar is only one piece of the growing clean energy pie in South Carolina," Loomis said. "We are seeing just as much, perhaps more, market interest in energy efficiency as businesses -- both large and small -- realize they can save on energy costs with improvements in their existing facilities."

Dominion's investment in Jasper was welcomed by Gov. Henry McMaster when its construction was announced last year.

"Every time a company invests in our state, it shows a commitment to succeeding here, and that couldn't be more important to our people. This investment represents the continuance of a lasting partnership between the State of South Carolina and Dominion," McMaster said in a statement.

Secretary of Commerce Bobby Hitt echoed that welcome, adding that "South Carolina's renewable energy sector continues to grow by leaps and bounds."

The alliance's report found that full-time employment directly linked to clean energy increased from 8,577 in 2015 to 18,004 the following year.

Building Efficiency at 30 percent and solar at 18 percent make up nearly half of the firms involved in the industry. Other firms are involved in biomass/biofuels, wind, geothermal, alternative fuel vehicles, energy storage, smart grid, fuel cells, and hydropower.

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